New “Fuzzie” Program Launched by Diocese of Rockville Centre Looks to Teach Children and Parents About Personal Safety Print E-mail

Rockville Centre, New York, October 15, 2006 – In an effort to educate young children about the importance of safety and the protocol they should follow if they feel threatened, the Diocese of Rockville Centre has begun an educational program entitled “Fuzzie.”

Fuzzie, a stuffed animal, is used along with a booklet full of fun exercises that provide a toolkit for parents and teachers to teach and discuss safety with children. The booklet is an owner’s manual for kids on how to keep Fuzzie safe, and in doing so learn about their own personal safety.

“The booklet is yet another effort by the Diocese to help give teachers and parents the tools to teach
kids to be safe,” said Eileen Puglisi, director of the Office of Protection for Children and Young People.

The program, which will be available to First graders in Catholic schools and in Religious Education classes, teaches children the importance of knowing where they live and who they can trust.

Presently, there are five sites involved in the program: St. Mary's of Manhasset (school); St. Agnes in Rockville Centre (Rel. Ed); Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Southampton (Rel. Ed); St. Isidore's in Riverhead (School); and Cure of Ars in Merrick (Rel. Ed.), however, the Fuzzie program will soon spread to all elementary schools and religious ed. programs throughout the Diocese.

A significant part of the lesson teaches children to say “no” when they feel uncomfortable, to go to someone they trust, and to tell them exactly what happened. Knowing how and when to dial 911 and to stay away from strangers are also key components of the program.

“The Fuzzie project is a joint effort between the Office of Protection for Children and Young People, the Office of Education, and the Office of Faith Formation to continue our efforts to enhance children safety and protection programs in the schools and parishes of the Diocese,” said George Rand, Associate Director for Children and Youth Formation in the Office of Faith Formation. “Fuzzie is a likeable character that both children and parents can relate to on an important and sensitive subject and in a non-threatening manner.”

Children are encouraged to send Fuzzie e-mails at Fuzzie@drvc.org  or write him a note and send it to Fuzzie, Diocese of Rockville Centre, P.O. Box 9023, Rockville Centre, N.Y. 11571-9023.

“This new program will give us the opportunity to talk to our students about their safety in a non-threatening way. The chance to have the students discuss safety issues using Fuzzie will enhance the programs we already offer in our schools on safety, child abuse and bullying,” said Sister Joanne Callahan, O.S.U., M.S., P.D., Superintendent of Schools.

For more information about the Fuzzie program, please contact Eileen Puglisi, Director for the Diocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Young People at epuglisi@drvc.org  or 516-678-5800 Ext 573.


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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.3 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 20,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 20,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,137 students in Catholic kindergarten, 23,825 in primary or elementary school, 12,628 in secondary school and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 76 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home-care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 80,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. For more information, visit www.drvc.org

Contact:
Sean P. Dolan
Director of Communications
516-678-5800, ext. 625
sdolan@drvc.org